Wednesday, April 8
Phoenix had previously noticed that the general plan of her earthship was to be similar to the ones already built, with four bedrooms.
“That seems to give the most usability without having to worry about who has the biggest place,” Dancing Bear informed her over breakfast. “In some cases, that would be enough to house a large family, or two small families or four couples, maybe with babies. The plan is to be versatile enough to accommodate almost any situation… sharing common rooms as appropriate. These homes will be rent-free, but remain property of the tribe.”
“If someone wanted to buy one?”
“We’d probably sell in that case, but the money would go to building more homes. I’m sure you already appreciate the quality of the earthships over the government prefab homes.”
“Where does Dragonfly and Crow live?”
“On the other side of Ba’a O’ng. They will probably get an earthship this summer. Crow often helps on the runs to get supplies and materials. He hasn’t since you arrived as they were busy with their newborn,” Dancing Bear explained. “Now, have you decided what you’re going to grow in your earthship?”
Phoenix felt almost ashamed that she hadn’t thought more about growing things. When she’d left Portland, it had been Spring, but that season wasn’t anywhere close in Wyoming, not yet. “What do you grow?” she asked.
“Come look,” Dancing Bear encouraged, leaving the table in an excitement Phoenix had never seen in the older woman. She looked to see that Skye and Rose were busy, then followed.
Phoenix had already seen some of the more exotic plants including the bananas and dragon fruit, but now Dancing Bear led her through the one door she’d never been through – the one leading to the older woman’s personal quarters. She pointed out her herb collection, also set above a tank of tilapia fish. “The difference between medicine and poison is often a matter of dosage. Some of these are quite poisonous, so I keep them well away from children. I will teach you if you wish to learn.”
“I wish to learn everything!” she replied eagerly.
Dancing Bear laughed. “I once felt as you. It was a sad day when I realized that I would have to live to be several hundred years if I were to learn half of all I wish to know!”
Phoenix listened to Dancing Bear identify many herbs. “There are more that grow in my garden, but many more cannot withstand Wyoming wind, cold, snow and altitude. I can fix the first three, but not the last. Those things I have to order online, but I try to find other herbs to substitute for those things. I believe that every place in the world has medicine in it – to treat the things most commonly encountered in the local environment.”
“Pine needles, rose hips, there are many sources.” She shrugged. “I concentrate on herbs to make healing teas or salves, tinctures and extracts. I would recommend only growing the non-toxic herbs for now – until you are done having young children around all the time.”
Phoenix knew that made sense.
“Mushrooms are more difficult,” she continued, leading Phoenix into her own bedroom. The room was sensual, but dark and earthy, not quite the sort of room she had envisioned for the older woman. There were also pictures of young children, but Phoenix couldn’t bring herself to ask the obvious questions. Dancing Bear would tell her one day, if she felt the need.
Phoenix looked at the mushroom operation that would have had any mycologist green with envy.
“They don’t grow in the wild here, not enough moisture! But I can teach you how to grow quite a few varieties if you’re interested.”
“As I said...”
“You have a thirst for knowledge, Phoenix. I think that may be why your ex did not value you – sometimes smart women are seen as a threat to their manhood or something stupid.”
“Is that why Kwina doesn’t like me?”
“You need to stop seeing it that way, I’m afraid. Once he realizes that you are serious about staying and proving yourself to him, he will stop this nonsense, I’m pretty certain. Even his father thinks that.”
“Nighthawk knows about my beading?”
“I didn’t say anything to him, but Little Deer might have – perhaps accidentally.”
Phoenix felt nervous. She needed to get the flames finished, then put whatever backing it needed… then she could get this over with and know whether Sage Eagle would ever forgive her her slights and insults. “I need to get Skye to school, then finish my beading.”
“I can do that if you like. I’ll see if Deheyi wants to come back with me too – that way Rose has something to do and she can advise you on anything you have left to bead.”
“I speak for many when I say that I want the end of your suffering. This little feud threatens to cause divisions within our tribe and disturb our peace. So, I can speak for the tribe when I tell you that I hope your peace offering does what is intended. Don’t be afraid of what he might say to you. Do what you need to do – for your sake, not for his.”
“I’m not afraid of him,” Phoenix replied. “There’s no one here I am afraid of.”
“That’s good. Then you won’t have a problem going with the guys down to Rawlins on Monday to pick up our fish order. I need some canning supplies as well… which I wouldn’t trust the guys to get right!”
Phoenix felt her heart racing into a blind panic.
“Little Deer has already volunteered to help look after Skye and Rose for the day.”
“Who is going?” she asked, wondering with both hope and dread whether Sage Eagle would be one of those.
“I wouldn’t know. Nighthawk doesn’t tell me all the details in advance. But I would feel best if you went so that you get the right jars. Last time I asked for pints, they got me half-gallons!”
Phoenix laughed. “Are you going to teach me how to can?”
“Would you like to learn?”
“I would have loved to have had a daughter like you!” Dancing Bear said with a smile that showed just how much.
“Nighthawk says that my earthship is almost done.”
“You are eager to leave me?”
“Of course not! I just thought that so you can prepare for another needy family… and to help my divorce.”
“Actually, while it’s not completely done yet, I heard Pronghorn say that it would be ready for the floor to be done this weekend. So, maybe when you get back from Rawlins… Mind, it won’t be completely finished, but it would be livable then.”
“Well, when everyone in the village has been helping, it doesn’t take too long. We hope to build a few more this summer.”
“I wish I could help.”
“You must let your ankle finish healing first.”
“It’s almost better.”
“Let it finish.”
Back to the prologue
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Previous Swan Valley Stories:
- Native Concession either in ebook form or [print]( . (June 2014, approximately 9 months before Phoenix.)
Swan Valley is a fictitious American Indian reservation located in the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming, USA. The Neme'o'ng (Swan People) are based on the idea of blending the Shoshoni and Arapaho peoples - as might have happened if they were stranded in a desolate area as a small band of misfits. I have developed their language from the same ideas.
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